SPARTA, NJ – The Sparta Township Council proclaimed April Donate Life month at the meeting last week.  Mayor Josh Herzburg read the proclamation with representative from the New Jersey Sharing Network’s Sussex Donate Life Group. 

Kelly Bonventre, Sparta resident and manager of Philanthropy and Foundation Programs at New Jersey Sharing Network introduced Allison Ognibene.  Ognibene celebrated the 30 anniversary of her life saving double lung and heart transplant surgery.

“I was 15 in 1980 and part of a big experiment,” Ognibene said.  “Sparta, New Jersey made sure I had enough money to fly to Pittsburg for the surgery.  When the call came, the Sparta police and ambulance squad stopped traffic on Route 15 to get me to the airport.”

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Saying she will always be a Spartan because of the support she received as a teenager, “I’m still alive and I’m still kicking.”

Bill and Carol McEllen were there as donor a donor family.

Dan Sarnowski explained his experience with organ donation.  “Seven years ago the love of my life passed away,” Sarnowski said.  “The donated kidneys helped save a life and organs helped 45 other people live better lives.”

Amy Cilli said her father recently died as an organ donor and her son Ryan established the Donate Life Club at Sparta High School.

Bonventre thanked the council “for three years of recognizing Donate Life Month and helping to raise awareness.  People will say yes when they are educated.”

The blue and green ribbons tied to light poles on Main Street are to remind the community about Donate Life month with a card attached with information about the New Jersey Sharing Network.

On Saturday, April 14 and 28 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. they will have a table display at the Sparta Farmers Market at the Hilltop Country Day School, 32 Lafayette Avenue.